Compare student loans for community college | finder.com

Compare student loans for community college

Find 5 private lenders you might qualify with — on top of federal aid available.

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One of the perks of going to community college is that it costs a lot less than other schools. If you need help covering expenses, you might want to consider your other financial aid options first to see if you can get away without borrowing at all. Otherwise, consider a lender that works with your college — some require you to attend a partner institution or Title IV school to qualify.

6 student loans you can use for community college

LoanAPR rangeTerms
Federal student loans4.53% to 7.08%10 to 25 years
CredibleStarting at 4.2% with autopayVaries by lender (typically, total certified costs of education minus financial aid already received)
Go to Credible Labs Inc.'s site
EDVestinU4.51% to 9.26%7 to 20 years
Go to EDvestinU's site
EarnestFrom 4.69%5 to 20 years
LendingTreeFrom 3%Varies by lender
Go to LendingTree, LLC's site
Discover5.49% to 12.99%Up to 20 years

What types of student loans can I get for community college?

You can get both federal and private student loans to pay for most community colleges. If you’re eligible, most lenders recommend that you apply for federal student loans first. They’re generally the least expensive, easier to qualify for on your own and come with more flexible repayment options.

When to consider a private student loan

However, you might not be eligible for federal loans if your community college isn’t a Title IV institution. In that case, you might have to look into private student loans. These are often slightly more expensive than federal loans and can have fewer repayment options.

Many also have income and credit requirements you might not be able to meet without a cosigner. And some lenders require you to attend a partner school, so yours might not be eligible with all lenders.

Can I get a student loan if I’m not in a degree-granting program?

Generally, no. For federal loans and most private lenders, you must be enrolled in an eligible degree-granting program to qualify.

You can find financing for degree programs shorter than four years like associate degrees. However, non-degree students typically have to pay out of pocket, as most other types of financial aid are also unavailable to them.

How to apply for student loans for community college in 5 steps

Need help covering the cost of community college? Follow these steps to get started:

What to watch out for when borrowing for community college

Here are a few things to look out for when taking out student loans to pay for community college:

  • School eligibility. If you don’t go to a Title IV school, it might be hard to find financing for your degree.
  • Program eligibility. Trying to earn a few credits on a budget without enrolling in a degree program? You probably won’t be able to qualify for a student loan.
  • Borrowing without considering other aid. Cut down on your costs by applying for scholarships and grants through your school and outside organizations first.

Should I go to community college?

Not sure if community college is right for you? Weigh the benefits and drawbacks to help you decide.

Benefits of community college

  • Save on the cost. Community colleges are typically more affordable than other schools — including in-state public universities.
  • More attention. These schools typically have smaller class sizes, meaning you might be able to get more attention in subjects you’re struggling with.
  • Get a fresh start. If you slacked off in high school or just want a higher GPA, upping your grades in community college for a year or two can help you get into a better school and qualify for more scholarships.

Drawbacks of community college

  • Limited degrees and resources. Community colleges typically don’t offer as many degree programs or have the state-of-the-art libraries, labs and extracurriculars available at more expensive schools.
  • Less prestigious. Community college sometimes doesn’t look as good on grad school or job applications as a more competitive school.
  • Lack of campus life. You might miss out on the more traditional social side of college if you attend one of these institutions.

Bottom line

Community college students are often eligible for most of the student loans available at other schools — as long as you’re attending a Title IV or nonprofit institution. And since these are generally low-cost schools, you might be able to get away with borrowing less — or not at all — if you qualify for scholarships and grants as well.

You can learn more about how paying for college works with our guide to student loans.

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